Fabio Leimer didn’t even make it through his first flying lap, stopping with mechanical problems, and so qualified P26 before Julian Leal‘s penalty. The Columbian-Italian driver qualified 24th, meaning his 10-place penalty didn’t have much effect. Alvaro Parente and Kevin Ceccon both did well in their first qualifying session of 2011, Ceccon managing much better than he had done in practice this morning. Parente went P15 and Ceccon P17. Considering Kevin’s made a massive leap from Auto GP to GP2 at only 17 years old, that’s very impressive (and I bet there are some very jealous GP3 drivers out there).
Pole was taken by ART/Ferrari driver Jules Bianchi. Giedo van der Garde took a great P2, and Britain’s Sam Bird took third as he looks to add to his podium total this year. Turkey’s polesitter Romain Grosjean was P5, 0.4s off Bianchi and only just faster than Valsecchi in P6. Dani Clos, winner in Imola at the start of this year, went P7, while Turkey sprint race winner Stefano Coletti managed P9, in with a chance at points.
Of the other F1 reserves, Luiz Razia was P13 for AirAsia, Esteban Gutierrez P16 for ART, and Fairuz Fauzy P21 for Super Nova.
Some quotes from drivers/teams:
We said after Istanbul we want to improve, 2nd position in qualifying is the way to start the weekend!
@gvandergarde (Giedo Van Der Garde, Addax, P1*)
Fantastico whole team. @GvanderGarde 2nd is a great way to start the weekend. And saving a set of tyres. @Charles_Pic1 completes the two drivers in the top 4. Very good work hope to continue in both races.
@addaxteam (Addax, P1* & P3*)
Today’s quali was a bit more difficult than the last one, However, I’m feeling confident for the race tomorrow starting from the 3rd row
@RGrosjean (Romain Grosjean, DAMS, P4*)
“Today was my best qualifying of the season. Maybe we could get something more, but we paid for the change in track conditions between the practice and qualifying. I tried to improve my time with the second set of tires, but it was really impossible. Tomorrow I expect a tough race, and the variable factor will be the management of the tires.”
Stefano Coletti (via Trident Racing Facebook page, P8*)
“Compared to Istanbul I had a good feeling with the car. I think the car is much better for my driving style, and I liked the overall balance. Unfortunately, with the second set of tires I had a lot of traffic on the track, but I’m still confident for the race tomorrow. I think with a good tire management and without adverse circumstances I can get to the points.”
Rodolfo Gonzalez (via Trident Racing Facebook page, P18)
*Jules Bianchi given a 10-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags, so will start P11. Giedo van der Garde is now on pole.